NOV 15, 2019 11:06 AM PST

Rise of Cannabis Use Disorder Due to Legalization?

WRITTEN BY: C Reardon

The topic of cannabis use disorder is growing as marijuana becomes more commonly and openly used by the general public. In the past, research has been conflicting as to whether or not cannabis addiction exists, but researchers are now exploring what they call cannabis use disorder. 

Cannabis use disorder is present when it can be proved that an individual's use of the drug has adverse effects on their life throughout the duration of twelve-month period. These adverse effects may include an inability to cut down, as well as overuse of the drug that leads to a failure to fulfill responsibilities at home or work. Often drug users utilize the drug to recover from its effects, creating a cycle of use. 

photo source: verywellmind.com

Authors responsible for recent research published in JAMA Psychiatry state that the rise in cannabis use disorder is "a potential public health concern."

Researchers used The National Survey on Drug Use and Health completed by 505,796 people between 2008 to 2016 to assess the situation. Just about half of those that filled out the survey were female, with 77% being above the age of 26. Researchers narrowed in on states that had been legalized by 2016, noting how often respondents used marijuana and whether or not they believed they had a cannabis use disorder before legalization.

In adults 26 and older, in states where cannabis is legal, those that had used marijuana in the last month rose by 23% in comparison to the states where cannabis is not yet legal. Problematic cannabis use rose by 37% overall after the legalization of recreational marijuana. 

Ian Hamilton, from the Department of Health Sciences at U.K.'s University of York, says that "although researchers found that regular use increased by only a few percent following the policy change, this could equate to a large proportion of the population given the popularity of cannabis. Even a small percentage increase in regular cannabis users can increase the risk of developing problems like cannabis dependence, which services would be unlikely to have the capacity to support."

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